Child's Play

by gerard varni


Alive but twelve years, 

He's taken a dozen 

Lives himself, stalking 

The hot, bloody

Shit-strewn streets of

Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.


He slips in while dreams rage, 

Machete drawn, 

Moonlight weeping 

From its ragged edge.

Quiet, so quiet a night;

Asleep on the floor

A man a woman a child?

No difference;

Like an animal, he sniffs 

And quivers,

Body electric now, 

Death lust surging throughout

Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa;


He crawls on calloused knees

To the torpid form,

Grasps a fistful of hair,

Snaps the head up 

With no sound 

But the rumor of a gasp,

Swings the familiar tool

A practiced blow 

That ruptures, lacerates.

He wrenches the head half off,

A woman he thinks.

The warm, tolerable blood,

Its dull ferrous scent,

Brings a broad boyish grin;

Rhythmically he swings

Again, and once more;

And then its off, 

Swaying and slavering 

In his calm hand in

Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.

He leaves then,

Bare feet rasping  

Over the dusty floor,

Drops the grisly lump

Into a rocking chair 

On the front porch.

When daylight breaks,

The bulging eyes, the

Ashen grimace, will

Inspire fear and esteem,

And if not esteem then

Fear will do for this child

Of the revolution,

This brave executioner, 

This stealthy night slayer in

Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.


Walking east, he pauses,

Picks a cassava,

Cleaves the melon in two;

He tears juicy chunks 

Of flesh to cleanse the blade.

Then he turns,

Misery in his wake,

Dreaming of nothing

But inexorable death,

With no tears

For his castrated youth.

He slouches toward

the low mountains

Which rise to plateaus

Which fall away into dark

Unknowable forests in

Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.